Grieving the Loss of a Best Friend
I think of all the hundreds of articles I have written, the one that has motivated the most people to write me has been about the grief over losing a best friend.
To anyone who has had a best friend die, my heart goes out to you. It is a lose that our society does not really honor or respect. There is no time off from work, no condolence letters, etc. There is nothing anyone can say to make you feel better, but it is important to give credence to your pain -- it is real.
If you have had a dear friend die, you may always miss her. Keep her in a reserved, cherished spot inside you, where you can go any time you want. However, she does not need to be front and center all the time.
If you are finding it hard to move on (whatever that means to you), here are some suggestions:
1. Talk. Talk about her to other friends. Don't be shy. You would do that if a parent or sibling died. Talk about what you loved about her, what you all did together, what you miss about her, and how much you miss her.
2. Have pictures of her. Put them out, don't be shy. Put outas many as you want, anywhere you want.
3. Talk to her. Talk to her in your mind's eye, and through the pictures. Tell her about your day, or whatever else you used to talk to her about. Tell her you miss her. Tell her you'll never forget her. Tell her that even when you begin to move on, develop new friends, have experiences she can’t be a part of, you will not forget her.
4. Tell yourself you can move on without being disloyal. She would want you to. And, since she is in your heart, she will be with you as you move on in your life.
5. Create a mourning ritual. One that has been useful for some people was adopted (and distorted) from a Jewish grieving ritual. For one week, seven days, pin a piece of black material of any size over your heart. Once a day, at the same specified time, say a prayer for her or just talk or sing to her. This should last no more than 5 minutes (which can be very long, actually). Then, at the end of the week, do the same thing once a week for two to six months -- at the same specified time.
6. If you are still feeling an intensity of the pain, if it is interfering with your getting on in life, then it may be time to consult a therapist who specializes in grief (and who can respect the importance of grieving over a friend). Often, the loss of one person can trigger old losses (deaths or other types of losses). When that happens, you are actually grieving over the old loss, so no matter how hard you try, you may not be able to get past the current one until you honor and deal with the earlier death.
There is a really good book that talks about the delayed impact of not resolving the loss (death or emotional absence) of a father, LongingFor Dad.
I’d love to hear from any of you who have found others ways to deal with the death of a best friend.